California Adventures: 5 Must-Do’s in Joshua Tree National Park
There is no surprise that Dr. Seuss found his inspiration in Joshua Tree. When you drive into the park you feel like you just drove into a scene from one of his books. Joshua Tree is a magical place, filled with vast miles of picturesque landscapes. If you live close enough you can easily visit J-Tree in a day, but I recommend camping for a night or two. The clearness of the night sky is worth it in itself.
Before you head to the park, makes sure to stop in town to get all of your supplies (like firewood). Once you are in the park, it’s quite a drive to the many campgrounds and no supplies are sold inside the park. Choosing a campground may be difficult. All of them are unique in their own special way. My two favorite are Jumbo Rocks and Ryan Mountain Campground. Make sure to check with the Joshua Tree website and/or follow them on Instagram so you are updated on campsite availability and other rad events.
I am lucky enough to live so close to this dreamland and have visited many times. The following recommendations are that of my own opinion. Take what you will but go with a happy heart!
A couple of my favorites are Ryan Mountain and Forty-nine Palms Oasis. The Ryan Mountain trail will, you guessed it, take you to the top of Ryan Mountain. There you will find a 360 degree view of all of Joshua Tree. It’s only 3 miles round trip but it’s mostly up hill… you are climbing a mountain after all, but it’s so worth it. Forty-nine Palms will lead you to an oasis in the middle of the desert. Snug between the rocky hills of Joshua Tree sits a large family of palm trees, happy as can be. This hike is 3 miles round trip as well. It’s nice to plan to eat at the oasis, so pack a lunch and bring it along.
Joshua Tree in the Spring:
One of my favorite times of the year. All of the cactus and other desert plants are in bloom. Park your car along the road and go for a walk. Look down at your feet and admire all the different types of plants that are around you and how many of them are blooming! You’ll see flowers of every color of the rainbow, make sure to just take pictures though and leave the flowers to the desert.
Sunset at Jumbo Rocks:
Jumbo Rocks is one of my favorite campsites, but I also think it is for a lot of other people as well. I don’t camp there very much anymore, unless I have my dogs with me (Jumbo Rocks is a campsite that allows dogs), but it is still an epic place to catch the sunset. Why? Well because there are hundreds of jumbo rocks that you can climb up on like Spider Man. There you sit high above the desert floor and have a clear view as the sun sets and paints the desert in golds and hues of pink.
If you don’t know this already, Joshua Tree is famous for it’s rock climbing. The surface of the rocks there are incredibly ‘sticky’, making them ideal for climbing. I’ve only climbed a couple times there, if you are an avid climber than I’m sure already know about what Joshua Tree ha stop offer you. If you are new to climbing but want to experience it at Joshua Tree, call the guys over at Nomad Ventures, they will help you out with everything you need… even a guide!
Cholla Cactus Garden and Ocotillo Patch:
These are two cactus families that are worth the stop (especially in spring). I can’t really do them justice by describing them on here, you really have to see them in person. The Ocotillo’s are tall and thin, and they have this sense of spinning motion to them. During the spring they get red blossoms at the very tip-tops that give them the look of fire works. The Cholla’s almost look like fuzzy teddy bears but don’t touch them! They don’t mix well with your skin!
These are just a few of many adventure inspiring things to do in Joshua Tree. I always leave my heart behind every time I leave. Have you been to Joshua Tree and have something to add to this list?